Worker sues minister over alleged lost promotion

A tradesman has launched legal action against the Minister of Public Works over allegations he lost out on a promotion and increased pay.

Calvin Simons has filed a writ in the Supreme Court and claimed that, despite caring for his seriously ill son, he was told to “show up” to an interview or he would miss out on the job opportunity.

It was alleged that a collective bargaining agreement between the Government and the Bermuda Industrial Union was breached after a depot foreman’s job remained unfilled by either an internal or external employee who met the post’s requirements.

Lawyers for Mr Simons said that he was a Class 1A tradesman employed by the defendant, named in the civil action as the Minister of Public Works.

They explained that the collective bargaining agreement included a provision that if “the necessary qualifications are met, vacancies in senior positions will be filled by promotion” from among the minister’s staff.

The writ added that other people would only be hired for senior posts “when present employees do not meet the requirements for the position”.

It said that the agreement said that “employees who have been awarded auto engineering certificates shall be paid a premium of $1.52 per hour”.

It claimed: “On June 10, 2019 the plaintiff obtained his certificate as a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and was registered as an engineering technician.”

The writ alleged that the minister failed to pay Mr Simons, despite his requests, the agreed premium rate.

It said that the minister advertised internally for a vacant post of depot foreman last April and that Mr Simons submitted his CV for the job.

The writ added that the position was advertised externally the next month and listed the requirements for the job.

It said: “At all material times the plaintiff has met the minimum requirements of the depot foreman post.

“Further, in 2012, the plaintiff had temporarily held the above-mentioned post until the defendant filled the post.”

Mr Simons was said to have provided documents to human resources staff at the ministry in June and he was shortlisted for an interview in July.

However, the writ said this was “arranged for a time when the plaintiff was caring for his son whose life was in medical danger”.

The court document added: “No change to this date was permitted with the plaintiff being informed he had to ‘show up or lose out’.

“The plaintiff attended the interview.

“Following the interview, on August 15, 2019, the defendant notified the plaintiff that his application would not be considered further for the post.”

The writ claimed that breaches of contract meant Mr Simons lost “the premiums which he would have earned” for his certification as an engineer.

The writ, filed last month, said he was “prevented from earning a promotion” and “lost the benefit of increased earnings and overtime opportunities and has suffered loss and damages”.

Mr Simons has asked for damages, interest and an order that the minister would “take all necessary steps to appoint the plaintiff to the vacant depot foreman post”.

The public works minister at present is Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch.

A ministry spokesman said: “The Ministry of Public Works is unable to provide any details or comment on matters before the courts.”

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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